Guide Joe Dennis consistently catches crappies in shallow water in January, but he said not all shallow water is productive.

“Later, during the major portion of the spawn, enough crappie are in the shallows at the same time, they’ll scatter a lot more,” he said. “During January, I key on areas with something different on the lake floor; depressions, ditches or channels leading from the (main lake) to shallow cover are the key.”

Dennis locates the main path of a deep-water connection and works along that area. He targets shallow brush, logs, stumps, grass or weeds, preferring the cover to be adjacent to the slightly deeper ditch.

“This pattern holds well even with cold-front passages,” he said. “The fish will retreat a bit toward the slightly deeper water and won’t be as aggressive, but they will bite. It may take longer to catch a bunch of fish, but January is typically very productive if we stick close to these slightly deeper water pathways.”